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A GARGOYLE’S GUIDE TO IMPORTANT PLACES IN CHICAGO

My name is Beezle, and I will be your incredibly handsome host for today’s tour. For those of you that don’t know me, I live in a slightly rundown two-flat in Chicago with an Agent of death named Madeline Black. She inherited the job, the house, and my wonderful gargoyle self when her mother died.

I spend a lot of time trying to keep Maddy from doing stupid things that will get her killed. The rest of the time it’s my job to guard our home.

Gargoyles can see the true nature of things. That means if a creature comes to our front door in a magical disguise I can look through all the layers of reality down to that creature’s essence and discover its real identity. It’s an amazingly important job and one that Maddy does not seem to appreciate properly. If she did, there would be more popcorn in the house and less complaining when all the chocolate disappears.

Anyway, on with the tour! Maddy and I live on the north side of Chicago, about six blocks from Wrigley Field and only ½ block away from the nearest Dunkin’ Donuts at Lincoln and Addison. I am partial to Boston Kreme doughnuts if you ever want to stop by the house with a half-dozen.

A short walk south on Lincoln will bring you to Dinkel’s Bakery, another excellent source of chocolate-covered doughnuts filled with cream. They also make every kind of cookie imaginable and excellent birthday cakes. My birthday is November 13th, in case you were wondering.

If we jump on the Brown Line at Paulina we can take the el over to the Southport stop, where a host of glorious goodies awaits.

The Ann Sather café is right next to the Southport stop, which is convenient because it means you won’t have to walk very far in order to stuff yourself with the most wonderful cinnamon rolls you’ve ever eaten in your life.

Maddy usually only buys one roll for us to share, which is pretty stingy if you ask me. If it were up to me we’d have enough on hand to eat four or five every day of the week. Of course, when I say things like this it usually leads to a non-productive discussion about trans fat and the size of my belly. Maddy doesn’t understand that gargoyles are supposed to be round.

Further north on Southport is Sensational Bites, home of the Boston Cream cupcake, the frosted brownie and gigantic slices of carrot cake. It is only a few steps away from Dairy Queen, so if you need an ice cream chaser after you’ve loaded up on pastry you won’t have to walk very far.

I’d like to tell about you a few more important places but Maddy is yelling at me about something. Apparently someone left a lot of dirty dishes in the living room and she seems to think I had something to do with it.

Come back next week and I’ll take you to all the movie theaters that have the best popcorn. Until then, Beezle signing off.

Beezle and Maddy have graciously offered to give away a copy of BLACK NIGHT to a lucky commenter.  Winner will be chosen at random and announced August 2nd. Sorry, open to residents of the US and Canada only.

GET YOUR CHIC LIT ON with Liz Fichera

It’s always perplexed me why books written by women authors about family and relationships are often classified as chick lit or women’s fiction while books written by men on the same topics often get literary fiction status. Additionally, literary fiction is sometimes described as character-focused while genre fiction is more plot-based.  Not sure I buy that distinction either because I’ve read chick lit that is both plot-based and character-driven.  Never mind the negative connotation of the label itself and the fact that books other than literary fiction are not reviewed in mainstream publications as widely, but I suppose that’s a topic for another day.  Fair or not.  It is what it is.

And you have to wonder if tags like chick lit were used to label books in the 19th century whether novels like Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyrewould still be considered classics today.  Cut to present day and we all know that authors like Jennifer Weiner, Sophie Kinsella and Emily Giffin sell boatloads of books that can be classified in this genre.  Clearly readers want these stories, when you see how they fly off the shelvesor into e-readers whenever there’s a new release.  In fact, readers demand them.Perhaps that’s why you see so many women of a certain age flocking to the Young Adult shelves today.  We all know that it’s just not teenagers reading young adult novels anymore.

So, can you blame them?

Who doesn’t want to escape for a little while inside a great story and imagine those “what ifs”?  For my tastes, a story has to press my emotional buttons to get me truly engaged and I can usually find that in chick lit.  So call it chick lit.  Call it lit chick.  Call it x@3XB 8Lu.  I don’t care! Just make these stories available.  Boatloads of them.

So what’s your take?  Do you care about labels when you purchase your books?  Or are you more interested in the story?

Liz’s bio:

Liz is an author from the American Southwest.  She writes commercial fiction and young adult novels but mostly she writes stories about ordinary people who do extraordinary things.  Her latest novel CRAVING PERFECThas been called chick lit, contemporary romance, and even contemporary romance fantasy.  It releases today from Carina Press.  She is also the author of CAPTIVE SPIRIT (2010) and the upcoming HOOKED (Harlequin Teen, 2013).  Don’t hesitate to drop by her web site or blog to connect.

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE MUSIC WITH JK COI

Falling Hard is my July release from Carina Press, and it’s full of music. No, it doesn’t have a built-in soundtrack that you can download to your iPod (sorry). But music is so much a part of it, you can feel the vibrations coming off the page. You can hear the bass through your fingers and into your soul as you read. Yes, I channeled my inner rock god to write this book.

Gabriel Gunn is the lead singer of Phantasm, and he’s lived the life of a hard-core rocker pretty much from day one. When he strolled into my head to announce himself as the hero of my book way back when, I knew that if I was going to write about a musician, then music had to be a large part of the book, and it had to feel real.

So I did some research (ok, I listened to a lot of music and talked to some musicians—what HARD work!) to make sure that I would be able to capture how the music feels and put it into words. I really think it worked. The music is part of every chapter of Falling Hard. It complements the characters, the setting, the emotional intensity in the challenges they’re facing. In itself, the music almost becomes its own character.

J.K. Coi

www.jkcoi.com

Twitter: www.twitter.com/jkcoi

Facebook: www.facebook.com/JKCoiAuthor

Excerpt from Falling Hard by J.K. Coi ©2011

The hot, colored spotlights hanging above the stage penetrated Gabriel’s dark lenses. He blinked, seeking relief from the stinging sweat pouring down his forehead and into his eyes through the thick layer of makeup and eyeliner.

He closed his eyes. That was better. He didn’t need to see the teenage girls screaming and jumping up and down in the front row. He didn’t need to see the rhythmic undulations of a crowd that had merged into one monstrous entity, moving before him like a great urban swarm.

A year ago he would have reveled in the size and energy of the crowd and seized the worship of his fans as nothing more than his due. Now the only thing that kept him onstage was the music.

He nodded, and behind him Samuel drummed the opening beat. Remmie followed on acoustic and Jackson broke in on bass. Their timing was perfect—Gabriel couldn’t have asked for a better set, especially since this was their last performance of the tour.

Hanging back, he gave the three of them this final chance to go nuts on the instrumental. The music pounded into him hard, each rough chord pulsing behind his closed eyelids in vibrant colors that swirled together to form familiar patterns. He sometimes wondered if everyone “saw” the notes like he did, if the music lived for them the same as it lived in him. Somehow he didn’t think so.

The boys were winding down, falling back into the official choreography of the song. Grabbing the strap of his bass, Gabriel swung it off his shoulder and readied his fingers on the strings. The crowd screamed his name, urging him to join his instrument and his voice with the others, as if only he could answer the savage demands of their hungry, desperate souls.

He opened his eyes again but the music had him in its grip and now he saw nothing except for its dark, electric colors. He let his body respond to the heavy beat as he leaped into the air. Expertly, his pick plucked the hard metal of the strings, the deeply calloused fingers of his other hand sliding along on the delicate neck of the instrument.

The notes flowed through him, a part of him. Stepping in front of the mic, he paused, waiting a heartbeat before he opened his mouth and started to sing.

You think you know… You think you understand.

Who I am. What I am.

The lyrics had been written by him, just as every song had come from him, from that honest, dark place nobody ever saw except through the music.

You can’t. You’ll never know…I pray you’ll never see.

The real me.

Gabriel felt the power and energy of the music extending outward into the audience. This was an abrasive tune with a heavy, industrial beat that made you feel certain—you either moved or you died. He didn’t have to see the crowd to know booted feet thumped madly on the concrete floor, sweaty bodies slammed forward and back, heads thrashed, and blood pumped fast and hot in thin veins already overtaxed by heroin and coke.

But it wasn’t only the beat that drilled into the core of every person in the audience. Gabriel himself drove them higher. He dictated the temper of the crowd and controlled it with his voice. His words. His will. That’s what left them frantic, roused and desperate for more—which is exactly the way he wanted to leave them tonight, when it would be more than a year before he stepped foot on a stage again.

Don’t try to find… Don’t try to see…

The real me.

Suddenly Sam’s drums quit. The guitars went silent.

The crowd slowly stilled, but Gabriel sensed the bodies straining toward the stage. His spine straightened, his hand tightening on the neck of his bass as his voice rose and he held the last vocal note. And held it. A minute passed. Two. His lungs expanded and his eyes watered. He used every last molecule of air available to him until finally he brought the note back into himself. Bending his knees and bowing forward, he breathed deeply and struck the last chord off the metal strings.

The lights dropped and the stage went black as the screen rolled across, blocking them from an audience still screaming for more.

Beside him, Remmie let out a low-voiced chuckle. “Shit, Gabe. That was some fucking finish.”

Jackson said something in agreement, but Gabriel barely heard. His heartbeat drowned out everything but the last rumbling echoes of the song.

Buy Falling Hard

A Pantster’s Tale with Lorelei Brown

The last three thousand words of Catch Me were written at 4am.

My husband and children had long since gone to bed–and at first, I’d gone to bed as well. But Dean and Maggie’s story kept pestering me and sleep was nowhere near coming. How could I leave it so very close to done? I knew what needed to happen and what I needed to round out.

And there were all those lovely words, just waiting on me.

So I got out of bed around 1am. I hauled my laptop to the living room and snagged a bag of Robin’s Egg candy on my way. (It was around Easter last year.) I planted my butt in my husband’s recliner, put the candy on the table next to me and made the push.

By the time the sun came up, I was done. More than that, I was exhilarated because I was basically high. I’m a pantser and it turns out that we plan-less writers get endorphin rushes off the twists and turns we discover along the way.  The last three or four thousand words of Catch Me turned out to be a doozy in that way. I will forever associate this book with the zooming, hopped up feeling I had by the time my family got up that morning. (Let’s be honest, the half bag of candy probably helped too. But it wasn’t all of it!)

My fondest hope is that rush I got translates to the page. Because I love that rush of a new, shiny story–even when it’s one I read. Maybe especially? In a much lighter dose, it feels kind of like when I went off the rappel tower in basic training. Face first. I spend the last third of a sweeping romantic story with a slight tense in my belly and hot clenches in my chest. It’s lovely.

In fact, that’s kind of my goal as a writer. I have career goals and things I want to accomplish, sure. But most of all, I want to be able to give a reader that breathless feeling.

CATCH ME

Dean drags Maggie all across the Southwest. There’s lots of verbal sparring, a creek or two, and some shirtless wood chopping. (By Dean. He gets sweaty too. It’s good stuff.) All that is even before the gunfight! (Because you can’t have a good western without a gunfight.)

So, please. If I leave you breathless and zoomy? Let me know. It’d be the best compliment ever.

Bio: After semi-nomadic lifestyle throughout California, Lorelie Brown spent the last few years of high school in Orange County before joining the US Army. While in the service, Lorelie met and fell in love with her husband. Once she became a mother, she left soldiering behind and for a while worked for the government as a civilian.

Lorelie now resides in the Southwest—until it’s time again to load up the family for the next adventure. She and her husband have three active sons who are definitely momma’s boys. To add to the insanity, the family dog is even male. Writing romance helps her escape a house full of testosterone.

Happy Launch Day, Fatal Consequences!

Thank you so much for having me today to discuss Fatal Consequences, book 3 in my new Fatal Series. Here’s a little bit about the book to get us started:

The murder of two members of the Capitol Cleaning Service might’ve been just another homicide investigation—that is if one of them hadn’t been romantically involved with a married senator from Arizona. Lt. Sam Holland and her team are plunged into another complex case that at first seems open and shut. But as Sam tugs on the threads of the investigation she uncovers a deep, dark Washington secret that threatens the careers of some of the government’s highest-ranking officials. Racing to catch a killer before he can strike again, Sam and her fiancé, U.S. Senator Nick Cappuano, attempt to plan a wedding while her colleague Detective Tommy “Gonzo” Gonzales faces life-changing news.

As this series unfolds, one of my goals is to keep Sam and Nick’s romance front and center, but don’t worry, there’s plenty of mystery, suspense and politics, too. Here’s a brief excerpt:

Nick approached her from behind, resting his hands on her shoulders and massaging the tense spots. He knew exactly where her stress collected, and it was all Sam could do to remain standing as his talented fingers hit all the right places. “It’s getting late, babe.”

“Did you clean up my desk again?”

“Maybe.”

“It’s a sickness. You have a sickness.”

“Guilty as charged.” He laughed softly and planted a kiss on her neck. Desire rippled through her. She was so easy where he was concerned, and he knew it. “What’s up with the case?”

The facts ran through her mind like a silent movie. “Until I get Lindsey’s report, I’m at a standstill.”

“Then let’s go home.”

Back in the day, Sam would’ve waited all night—if necessary—for the autopsy report and lab results. Now, though, she had a good reason to go home. She looked up at him. “Sorry for letting work invade our day off. Maybe one of these days we’ll succeed in actually scoring a full day off.”

“We can dream.”

She let him help her into her coat and lead her from the office. “I know you really needed the break.”

“Not your fault, and besides, I did get a day off from campaigning, so it’s all good.”

“We missed out on our early Valentine’s Day,” she said once they were in the car.

He reached for her hand, laced his fingers through hers. “Every day with you is Valentine’s Day.”

Sam smiled at him. “Even if we end up on different sides on this case?”

“We may not always agree, Sam, but we’re always on the same side.”

She relaxed into the heated leather seat and enjoyed the companionable silence. That was one of her favorite things about her relationship with Nick. Even in the quiet spaces between words, she was always in tune with him. In the past, when she’d been unhappily married to a manipulative man who wanted to control her every thought, she’d often been lonely even when he was sitting next to her on the sofa or lying next to her in bed. She had never once felt that way with Nick.

“What’re you thinking about over there?” he asked.

“I’m thinking about us.”

“What about us?”

“Could I ask you something and will you tell me the truth?”

He glanced at her. “Of course you can and of course I will.”

“When we’re together, do you ever feel lonely?”

“Lonely?” He released a short laugh. “That is one thing I never feel when I’m with you.”

“Good,” Sam said, relieved. “That’s good.”

Nick parallel parked on Ninth Street, killed the engine and turned to face her, reaching out to caress her cheek. “What’s that all about?”

“Sometimes, well…a lot of the time when I was with Peter, I remember being lonely even when he was right there with me. I was thinking that I’ve never felt that way with you, and I was hoping you hadn’t either.”

“I’ve never felt that way, and I’m glad you haven’t.” He reached for her, and she leaned into his embrace. “If you’re ever lonely, will you tell me?”

She nodded. “Will you?”

“I promise.”

“I doubt it’ll ever be an issue between us. Everything about this is different.”

“Yes,” he said, kissing her. “It is. Come on, let’s go in.”

We’re off to the races with Fatal Consequences, book 3 in the Fatal Series, out today, with the wedding novella, Fatal Destiny, coming right behind it on Sept. 5. I’ll give away PDF copies of the first three books in the series to one winner today. Tell me what you think of an enduring romance like Sam and Nick’s in fiction. What makes it work for you? What turns you off? Thanks for coming by to say hello!


Marie Force is the bestselling, award-winning author of the Fatal Series from Harlequin’s Carina Press. The series includes FATAL AFFAIR, FATAL JUSTICE, FATAL CONSEQUENCES and FATAL DESTINY, which is out Sept. 5. “This novel is ‘The O.C. does D.C.,’ and you just can’t get enough.” (RT Book Reviews, 4.5 stars for FATAL AFFAIR). In its July 2010 issue, RT Book Reviews named Marie a “Future Star of Romantic Suspense.”

Marie is also the author of the following contemporary romances: EVERYONE LOVES A HERO, LINE OF SCRIMMAGE, LOVE AT FIRST FLIGHT, TRUE NORTH, THE FALL and THE WRECK as well as her popular McCarthys of Gansett Island Series: MAID FOR LOVE, FOOL FOR LOVE and READY FOR LOVE.

Since 1996, Marie has been the communications director for a national organization similar to RWA. She is a member of RWA’s New England and Published Author Special Interest Chapters.

While her husband was in the Navy, Marie lived in Spain, Maryland and Florida, and she is now settled in her home state of Rhode Island. She is the mother of two teenagers and a feisty dog named Brandy.

Find her at www.mariesullivanforce.com, on her blog at http://mariesullivanforce.blogspot.com, where she runs the weekly Romance & Oreos Book Club, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pages/Marie-Force/248130827909, and on Twitter @marieforce. Marie loves to hear from readers. Contact her at marie@marieforce.com.

Writing Fiction to Exorcise Demons ~ Diane Fanning

Every time I write a work of fiction, I have in one way or another exorcised a demon in my soul.  Since I also write true crime books, I probably accumulate more of those little tormentors than the average person.

With non-fiction, I am stuck with the facts: the heartbreaking sorrow of the families and friends of murder victims, endings that make a mockery of justice, the irrevocable death of innocents whom even justice cannot revive.  I have anguished over autopsy reports, sickened over first-hand accounts of murder and sobbed with victims’ family members.

With fiction, on the other hand, I can kill off whoever I want with the knowledge that no real person will grieve or suffer in the process.  I can deliver justice without feeling pain.  I can connect my first hand knowledge of reactions of all the players from law enforcement to perpetrators to bring my readers closer to understanding the impact of real crime.

With my most recent work of fiction, TWISTED REASON, it became a lot more personal.   In 2005, on the very same day that Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, I lost my father to a long bout with dementia.  In 2009, I lost my father-in-law to Alzheimer’s.  The pain of watching two wonderful men deteriorate in a slow downward spiral—losing their personalities, their clarity, their essential humanity—was devastating.  My most heart-rending memory is the moment my father forgot how to tie his own tie and expressed dismay that we must be ashamed of him.  No amount of assurance could relieve him of the pain of his fading awareness.

As a writer, the road to recovery from these wounds was obvious: write about my loss in the context of a mystery novel.  Life taught me the pain of caregivers and other loved ones in this situation.  My experience with true crime gave me insight into the processes of the criminal mind, method of investigation and experiences of everyone impacted by a crime.  Marrying the two together, I created TWISTED REASON, the fourth novel in my Virginia-based, Detective Lucinda Pierce series.

TWISTED REASON opens with the discovery of Edgar Humphries, neatly dressed and deceased, stretched out on his son’s front porch, one suit pocket filled with acorns.  Edgar, diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, had been missing for six months.  Detective Pierce’s first job was to determine if Edgar died from natural causes or foul play.  Her investigation leads her to a poor man’s Disneyland and a man who did all the wrong things for what he believed were the right reasons.

I knew I experienced healing in the process of writing this novel and was gratified to learn that I also achieved my second goal when I read my reviews.   Publishers’ Weekly wrote: “Fanning skillfully illuminates the heartbreaking challenges facing Alzheimer’s victims and their families.”

I wrote TWISTED REASON out of love for two exceptional men, compassion for caregivers everywhere and the need of this author to find comfort for her soul.  I would love to share that journey with you.

TWISTED REASON, now available in trade paperback.  Also available in hardcover, Kindle, Nook, iBooks and other eBook formats.

Finding your niche with Melissa Foster

“Have you found your niche?” That’s a question that I’ve been asked too many times to count, and my answer is always accompanied by a perplexed look. Niche? Well, yeah, writing is my niche. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that question; Have I found my genre, my formula, what works for my readers? The answer is yes, I have, but it’s not what one might expect.

Writing has been a glorious gift for me, and I hope never to pigeon-hole that creativity into only one genre. Many authors do, and that works for them and for their readers, but when I’m given a box, I have a need to climb out of it.

I give very little thought to what genre my books will fall into. I care tremendously that they are well formed stories with emotional pull and realistic characters, I want my readers to fall in love with each one of those characters, but I don’t spend much time on worrying about how those readers categorize my books.

MEGAN’S WAY was literary fiction, CHASING AMANDA was a crossover between suspense and women’s fiction, and my upcoming release, COME BACK TO ME, is an international love story/tragedy, which probably fits best into the women’s fiction genre. My current work-in-progress is a YA/women’s fiction crossover. I enjoy writing too much to confine myself to one genre, and I’m a bit rebellious, making such confinements almost impossible. One thing I will say about my writing in general, is that readers seem to really enjoy my books, both men and women, and for that reason, I plan on continuing to write the stories that come to me in the best way I know how. If you have the chance to meet me, instead of asking if I’ve found my niche, perhaps try the question, “Where are we headed next?”

Here’s a sneak peak at my next release, COME BACK TO ME:

Tess Johnson has it all, Beau, her handsome photographer husband, a thriving business, and a newly-discovered pregnancy. When Beau accepts an overseas photography assignment, Tess decides to wait to reveal her secret—only she’s never given the chance. Beau’s helicopter crashes in the desert.

As Tess struggles to put her life back together and deal with the pregnancy she can no longer hide, a new client appears, offering more than just a new project.

Meanwhile, two Iraqi women who are fleeing Honor Killings find Beau alive in the middle of the desert, his body ravaged. Suha, a doctor, and Samira, a widow and mother of three young children, nurse him back to health in a makeshift tent. Beau bonds with the women and children, and together, with the help of an underground organization, they continue their dangerous escape.

What happens next is a test of loyalties, strength, and love.

www.MelissaFoster.com
www.TheWomensNest.com

Facebook/Melissa Foster

Twitter/Melissa_Foster

Megan’s Way
2011 Beach Book Award Winner (Spirituality)
2010 Next Generation Indie Book Award Finalist (Spirituality)
Nominated Dan Poynter’s Global eBook Award 2011 (Winners TBD summer 2011)
Chasing Amanda
Nominated Dan Poynter’s Global eBook Award 2011 (Winners TBD summer 2011)

Man Law ~ Inside Vic's head with Adrienne Giordano

It’s Scary Inside Vic’s Head

This, I know for sure.  Of course, I created Vic Andrews, the hero in Man Law, my debut romantic suspense.

Vic is an emotional machine. At 36, he’s conditioned himself to avoid getting close to anyone. He lives alone and abides by his Man Laws, which are just about the only rules he follows. He didn’t get this way on his own though.  His mother helped when she abandoned him as a child.  As a result, he grew up to be a man who didn’t quite trust the pull of emotional attachment.  We’ve all probably felt that way at one time or another. Haven’t we? Maybe when our heart was broken by our first love? Or the death of someone we cared about? A friend’s betrayal?

But Vic, he took that emotional detachment to an extreme. Early on, it paid off for him. He joined the military and grew into an excellent soldier. A crack shot, he found use for his emotional bankruptcy by performing at a level most would dread.

In some ways, I want to be Vic Andrews when I grow up. He plows through his tasks with minimal fuss. Give him a target and he finds a way to hit it.  He is driven to succeed, whatever his assignment. He never gives up. He never moans about his mission. He never fails.

Still, there should be more to life. What if we all went through life refusing to fall in love? Or never making mistakes? Imagine how dull it would be if we didn’t allow ourselves to become emotionally invested in something.

Precisely why I decided to test Vic’s resolve. To see just how far I could push him.

I had to push him pretty far.

And it included using my ultimate secret weapon. Yep, I threw a sexy mother of three at him.  For a guy who resists emotional attachments, I gave him a family (not to mention the teenager) to deal with.

We did battle. I wanted him to do it my way. He refused. I had to get mean about it. He gave in a little. Then I got really mean and he finally admitted I was right.

It did occasionally get scary inside Vic’s head, but exploring what could happen to an emotional machine when his heart starts to take over was a whole lot of fun.

Readers, do you think it would be boring to go through life as an emotional machine?

Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Man Law.

Adrienne Giordano writes romantic suspense and women’s fiction.  She is a Jersey girl at heart, but now lives in the Midwest. She is a co-founder of Romance University blog. Adrienne’s debut romantic suspense, Man Law, will be released by Carina Press on July 4, 2011. Her second book, A Just Deception, will be available from Carina Press on September 5, 2011. For more information please visit www.AdrienneGiordano.com.  Adrienne can be found on Twitter and Facebook. For an excerpt of Man Law click here.

Man Law available at:

Carina Press

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

PJ Schnyder asks, “how do you mini vacation”?

It’s summer but my day job is keeping me hopping around the country. I’m due for another biz trip to the West Coast in just a week. Juggling the demands and dead lines of the day job with the time lines and exciting events of my writing career keep my days and nights filled.

I’ve donated several gift packages to the L.A. Banks Romance Relief Auction (http://stores.ebay.com/RomanceRelief) set to start July 6th and I’ve joined the Skyrockets in Flight Blog Hop Delight (http://pjschnyder.com/blog/2011/07/04/releasedayhuntingkat/) to celebrate the release day of my new science fiction romance, Hunting Kat.

In between day job and writing, I also train in Mixed Martial Arts at Tri-State Martial Arts Academy (http://www.martialarts4fun.com/index.html) and assist in teaching the kids’ classes twice a week. While it’s a great work out, effective stress reliever and fantastic fun, I have to admit my training isn’t rest or relaxation.

In Hunting Kat, Kat Darah finds herself with some enforced R&R. What to do with oneself, especially if you aren’t going to be on a solid vacation of significant time and instead are nabbing bits of down time here and there?

Here’s a few things I do to give myself a mini vacation:

Bath and body

Stores like Lush, Aveda, Bath & Body Works… I love to get a little something that smells wonderful. A special treat like a unique body scrub or a nifty bath bomb for a good soak can do fabulous things for my tension levels and my skin. 😉

Escape in my own backyard

Taking an hour to sit on my back deck and enjoy the breeze, maybe do a little sunning or sit in the shade sipping iced tea with a fun book and my dogs hanging out with me…yeah, that’s time well spent. A little fetch with the Big Dog and his tire is fun for the both of us.

Mani/Pedi fun

It doesn’t take long to stop in at a salon or spa and get a nice manicure and pedicure. Done well, a pedicure can be incredibly relaxing and the hour of pampering is well worth the time out from the busy pace of my day. Besides, I get a silly smile looking at my pretty toes in a pair of cute shoes later.

These little “spoil me” moments are important to regain my balance. I’m more productive and my writing is much better when I’m well rested and relaxed.

Anyone have a particular thing they like to do to spoil themselves just a little bit?

When you are looking for a bit of a diversion, I hope you’ll visit me around the internet:

http://pjschnyder.com

http://twitter.com/pjschnyder

http://pjschnyder.tumblr.com/

http://facebook.com/pjschnyder

About PJ:

Born and raised in the North East, PJ Schnyder spent her childhood pretending to study for the SATs by reading every fantasy and sci-fi novel she could borrow from the local and school libraries. She scored fairly high in the verbal portion.

She was introduced to the wonderful world of romance a decade later by her best friend at an anime convention in Seattle.

She now lives somewhere temperate watching the seasons go by with her two dogs and super stealthy ninja kitty, writing her stories.

Latest release, Hunting Kat, is now available from Carina Press. (http://ebooks.carinapress.com/464519ECED25-4E1B-9488-FD93E93202A5/10/134/en/ContentDetails.htm?ID=4AAE9BAE-0585-4899-87A2-77067A639980)